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Features

Grandchildren of monarchs: Emperor Naruhito of Japan


By Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan - http://www.mofa.go.jp/s_sa/sea2/ph/page3e_000444.html, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48716261

Emperor Emeritus Akihito of Japan has two sons and a daughter, who have given him four grandchildren in total.

Aiko, Princess Toshi

His eldest son – the current Emperor Naruhito – has one daughter with his wife, Empress Masako: Aiko, Princess Toshi.

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In April 2001, it was confirmed that Masako was pregnant, and on 1 December 2001, Masako gave birth to a daughter named Aiko. Her name was chosen by her parents instead of the Emperor. Aiko, the Princess’s personal name, is written with the kanji characters for “love (愛)” and “child (子)” and means “a person who loves others.” Her Imperial title is Princess Toshi (敬宮 toshi-no-miya), which means “a person who respects others.”

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Aiko began her education at the Gakushuin Kindergarten on 3 April 2006. Since 2014, she is enrolled at the Gakushuin Girl’s Junior Highschool, and she told reporters on her first day of school, “I am looking forward (to starting a new school life).” Aiko was frequently home from school due to bullying from classmates. Now that she is a little bit older, she sometimes joins her parents at official engagements. Aiko attended a course at Eton College and is now attending Gakushuin University, where she majors in Japanese language and literature.

Aiko’s father became the new Emperor of Japan after his father’s abdication on 30 April 2019, but Aiko will not be able to succeed him. Before the birth of her younger cousin Hisahito, there was some debate about whether the Imperial Household Law of 1947 should be changed to absolute primogeniture to allow for the succession of a woman. There have been eight empresses in their own right in Japanese history, and most European monarchies have changed their laws to allow for female succession. Only Liechtenstein completely bars the succession of women, while Spain still abides by a preference for males. With the male line being dangerously close to extinction, it would only be prudent to allow for Aiko to succeed her father and to abolish the system where Japanese princesses must give up their Imperial titles if they marry a commoner.

Princess Mako

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Princess Mako of Akishino was born on 23 October 1991 as the eldest daughter of the current Crown Prince and Princess of Japan, Prince Fumihito and Princess Kiko. She is the former Emperor’s eldest grandchild. Princess Mako attended the Gakushūin School all the way through high school before leaving Japan to briefly study English at the University College in Dublin in 2010. She returned to Japan to study Art and Cultural Heritage at the International Christian University in Tokyo. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in 2014. She received her Master’s degree in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester in 2016 and also studied art history at the University of Edinburgh for a few months.

Since becoming an adult, she has attended several official functions as a member of the Imperial Family.

Princess Mako’s engagement to Kei Komuro was announced in 2017, but the wedding was postponed due to a financial dispute between Kei Komuro and his family. As of May 2021, the wedding still has not taken place, although it appears that both Princess Mako and Kei Komuro want it to go ahead. If it does, Princess Mako will formally lose her title and become a commoner.

Princess Kako

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Princess Kako of Akishino was born on 29 December 1994 as the second daughter of the current Crown Prince and Princess of Japan, Prince Fumihito and Princess Kiko. Like her elder sister, she attended the Gakushūin School all the way through high school. She graduated in 2013.

In 2015, she passed the entrance exam for the International Christian University to study the performing arts and psychology and studied abroad at the University of Leeds in 2017. She graduated in 2018 and undertook her first official solo visit to Austria and Hungary.

Like her elder sister and cousin, she is not in line of succession.

Prince Hisahito

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Prince Hisahito of Akishino was born on 6 September 2006 as the only son of the current Crown Prince and Princess of Japan, Prince Fumihito and Princess Kiko. He was the first male to be born into the Imperial Family since his own father in 1965. He began his school in 2010 in a kindergarten affiliated with the Ochanomizu University. He entered their elementary school in 2013, and in 2019, he entered their junior high school. Due to his age, he does not attend many official events, though he did accompany his parents on an official visit to Bhutan in 2019.

Prince Hisahito is currently second in the line of succession and the only one likely to father children in the future. He is followed in the line of succession by his elderly granduncle Masahito, Prince Hitachi, who does not have any children of his own.